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Welcoming remarks by Hon. Velenkosini Hlabisa MPL

Chairman and Board Member

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His Majesty King Misuzulu kaZwelithini;

His Excellency Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP;

His Excellency, Dr Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;

Excellencies High Commissioners and Ambassadors representing different countries, Amakhosi Asendlunkulu, members of the Royal family, Fellow Members of the Board of Trustees of this Foundation; Distinguished guests;

Members of the media; And those joining us online via the live stream;

Good afternoon.

It is my great honour to welcome you – on behalf of the Foundation’s Board – to the inaugural Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation Lecture. The Foundation is honoured and grateful that you accepted its invitation to come and grace this special occasion. His Majesty, the King of the amaZulu Nation: we are grateful that His Majesty the King is with us to honour this historic day, where the Giant of Africa, Dr Olusegun Obasanjo, will share His knowledge of the Great Son of Africa, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

I know that all the great men and women who are present here today are lifelong admirers of the Foundation’s namesake, His Excellency, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

He is a man of the utmost integrity, who has dedicated more than seven decades of his life to the service of the people of South Africa.

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi is a multi-faceted individual, who has excelled and inspired in all his many roles: as traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation; as Acting President of the Republic of South Africa more than twenty two times; as Minister of Home Affairs; as Chief Minister of the former KwaZulu Government; as liberation stalwart; as the Founder and leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party; as the former Chancellor of the University of Zululand; as conservationist; as man of faith, and as a true servant of the people.

The Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation, which was launched in September 2022, here at the ICC in Durban, exists to uphold, promote, and preserve the legacy, values and principles of His Excellency, the Prince of KwaPhindangene, in the daily lived reality of South Africans and the people of the world.

As the Foundation establishes its roots and grows, we will be pursuing the thirteen objectives that honour Prince Buthelezi’s legacy. Each of our Board Members is dedicated to steering specific projects linked to these objectives.

As the Board of the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation, it is our privilege to participate in these worthy initiatives, including those that promote peace through negotiations and the non-violent resolution of conflicts wherever they occur, as well as to promote reconciliation, social cohesion, multiculturalism, and unity in diversity with the objective of nation building, in order to heal the wounds of the past and secure a shared future in which the rule of law prevails, and equality is upheld.

The Foundation will also promote education as a priority and a fundamental right, to support research and innovation, and to increase responsible mentorship.

We will advocate for equality, particularly gender equality, with an emphasis on empowering the most vulnerable members of society.

Further, we will champion human rights and strengthen the institutions that protect human rights. This includes honouring and upholding the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and promoting democracy and constitutionalism as the best guarantors of freedom.

Through the Foundation’s work, we will pursue good governance and moral leadership, and hold those in leadership positions to account for principled behaviour and utmost integrity.

We will also support conservation initiatives that preserve our natural heritage and enhance sustainable living.

The principles of self-help and self-reliance will also be actively promoted, with a particular focus on food security.

Another essential objective for the Foundation is to pursue the development of legislation and other means to enshrine and promote the role, powers, and functions of traditional leadership within communities.

The Foundation will also promote social and economic justice for all the people of South Africa, as well as promote the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Multiparty Democracy, Transparency, Accountability, and the principle of subsidiarity in governance.

Lastly, we will strive to champion the provision of quality healthcare, medical innovation, and accessibility of healthcare services, to promote the physical and mental wellbeing of all South Africans.

The Foundation will make every effort to create a world in which every individual is empowered to reach their full potential, whether working on their own or collectively with others.

Our Lecture today – the first of what is to be an Annual Foundation event – also provides us with the opportunity to hear from another exemplary elder statesman, the International Icon who has lived a life in service to the people, much like Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

We are deeply honoured to have His Excellency, Dr Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as today’s keynote speaker,

It is a great privilege to welcome President Obasanjo here today and we look forward to his address as a man who has lived a life worthy of praise, admiration, and emulation – particularly in his pursuit of peace in Africa.

I trust that you will enjoy the day with us and find much inspiration. May we all appreciate this rare opportunity to learn from two great men who have made their mark and changed their respective countries, our continent, and the world, for the better.

I bid all of you a warm welcome.

I thank you.

This speech was given at the Inaugural Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Foundation Lecture on 21 March 2023 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban and published on on 21 March 2023.